CBS announced a few details about Survivor 45 today, including its cast—though that had already been revealed starting back in May by Inside Survivor. (The new players are listed below.)
What really caught my attention was a single sentence in the press release, which gave us a glimpse into what will fill the additional 30 minutes of airtime that Survivor will have each week.
First, CBS revealed that Survivor is the “most-watched reality show on Paramount+,” which is interesting because both The Challenge and Big Brother stream there, too.
The release also pointed out that we’ve already had 652 episodes of Survivor (!), and calls this “the biggest season of the greatest game ever played.”
The expansion is not on the contestants’ side of the game; they will be limited to 26 days, as has become the new, cost-saving normal.
How Survivor will expand to 90 minutes
When The Amazing Race 35 announced its teams last week, its co-creator Elise Doganieri explained in an interview why TAR season 35 was actually the 36th season filmed: They’d already edited season 35 into hour-long episodes.
Thus, Amazing Race’s producers were able to plan an entire season knowing they had 90-minute episodes to fill, which Elise said meant they could “put more locations in, include more creative.” She also said that they’d “let the story play out a little more, get to know the relationships between contestants a little better” and include some of “that we don’t get to show in the series because we have to cut it down for the one hour episodes.”
I kind of hoped the same would be the case for Survivor: with more air time, the producers could plan for more content to fill 90-minute episodes—especially considering past 90-minute episodes sometimes felt overly padded.
Here’s how CBS describes Survivor 45:
Viewers will watch as castaways form a society and adapt to their physical and social surroundings while contending with treacherous new elements and navigating an ever-shifting social game. This determined group will be divided into three tribes of six and face a faster, grittier season from the moment they step on the beach. The moral dilemmas and extreme situations will test even the strongest competitor, and the mental and physical challenges require players to constantly evolve their strategies to survive another day.
The dynamic individuals competing on the milestone 45th season are from diverse backgrounds and bring fresh perspectives to this new era of the game, with the same ultimate goal: to outwit, outplay and outlast. And in the end, only one will remain to claim the title of Sole Survivor and win the $1 million prize.
That sounds pretty normal. But I left off the first sentence, the scary one:
Through longer weekly episodes, Survivor will take a deeper dive into the players’ stories as they’re stranded on the stunning islands of Fiji.
Yes, “a deeper dive into players’ stories.” Deep breaths.
Look, I love character development. The Real World was my show back in the 1990s because I was able to spend time with people unlike those I knew in my everyday life. On competition shows, I like getting to know who’s playing.
But at the same time that Survivor’s cast was diversified, Survivor shifted the way it edited episodes, too often turning that backstory into clunky packages that interrupted the actual game.
Instead of learning organically about the players like we did in early seasons, from their behavior and their interaction with each other, we instead were treated to exposition dumps. That’s not to diminish any of the cast members’ life experiences, of course, just the awkward way those biographical elements were shared with viewers.
I’m probably overreacting to a single sentence, but I fear that Survivor can actually make that worse. American Ninja Warrior and America’s Got Talent have turned themselves into inspiration porn by giving more time and attention to bio packages than actual competition, or by repeating the same character note over and over again.
I pray to the Survivor gods that’s not what we get for an entire half-hour (or more!) every episode of Survivor 45. The editing did seem to improve during Survivor 44, so there is hope.
Perhaps this is also better than filling a half-hour with more twists or producers having their own fun!
But I also would have just loved to see, say, a reward challenge in every episode, with an actual reward trip, instead of a visit to the Survivor Sandcastle of Shitty Food. (I know it’s actually “The Sanctuary.” I just don’t like typing that word.)
Survivor 45’s cast
Among the cast members is one familiar face, Bruce Perreault, who was medically evacuated during the first episode of Survivor 44, and also a name you may recognize because he’s a super-active member of the Survivor community online: Brandon Donlon.
Here’s the cast, and their occupations, according to CBS:
- Julie Alley, 49, Brentwood, Tenn, estate attorney
- Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup, 30, O’Fallonn, Ill., gym owner
- Drew Basile, 23, Philadelphia, grad student
- Sabiyah Broderick, 28, Jacksonville, truck driver
- Austin Li Coon, 26, Chicago, grad student
- Brandon Donlon, 26, Sicklerville, N.J., content producer
- Sean Edwards, 35, Provo-Orem, Utah, school principal
- Emily Flippen, 28, Laurel, Maryland, investment analyst
- Kaleb Gebrewold, 29, Vancouver, software sales
- Janani Krishnan-Jha (stage name: J. Maya), 24, Los Angeles, singer
- Brandon “Brando” Meyer, 23, Seattle, software developer
- Kendra McQuarrie, 31, Steamboat Springs, Colo., bartender
- Kellie Nalbandian, 30, New York, critical care nurse
- Jake O’Kane, 26, Boston, attorney
- Bruce Perreault, 47, Warwick, Rhode Island, insurance agent
- Hannah Rose, 33, Baltimore City, therapist
- Katurah Topps, 35, Brooklyn, civil rights attorney
- Dee Valladares, 26, Miami, entrepreneur